Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Don’t be Fooled, Phone Scams Continue to be Serious Threat Nationwide

From The IRS Newswire, 03/31/2015
WASHINGTON — As April 1st approaches, the IRS warns taxpayers not to be fooled by the tricks scammers use to take advantage of those they target. Scammers use fake names, provide bogus IRS badge numbers and alter caller ID numbers to make it look like the IRS is calling.

With the final two weeks of the filing season about to begin and millions preparing their returns, taxpayers should be alert.

"This is no April Fool's joke. Everyone should be on the lookout for threatening calls from people faking IRS phone numbers and demands for immediate payment," IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said. "These are scams. I urge taxpayers to stay vigilant and remain aware of the constantly changing tactics used by these criminals.”

As the filing season nears its end, there has been a surge of phone scams where scam artists threaten police arrest, deportation, license revocation and other threats.

They often leave “urgent” callback requests and sometimes prey on the most vulnerable people, such as the elderly, newly arrived immigrants and those whose first language is not English. Scammers have been known to impersonate agents from IRS Criminal Investigation as well.

Here are five things the scammers often do but the IRS will not do.

The IRS will not:
  • Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do:
  • If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. The IRS workers can help you with a payment issue.
  • If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484 or report it online at the IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting Page.
  • If you’ve been targeted by this scam, also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their FTC Complaint Assistant at FTC.gov. If the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.

Remember, too, the IRS does not use email, text messages or any social media to discuss your personal tax issue involving bills or refunds. For more information on reporting tax scams, go to IRS.gov and type “scam” in the search box.

Additional information about tax scams is available on IRS social media sites, including YouTube and Tumblr, where people can search “scam” to find the related posts.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

DHS Extends Eligibility for Employment Authorization to Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses of H-1B Nonimmigrants Seeking Employment-Based Lawful Permanent Residence

From www.uscis.gov, 02/24/2015

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director León Rodríguez announced today that, effective May 26, 2015, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is extending eligibility for employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who are seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident (LPR) status. DHS amended the regulations to allow these H-4 dependent spouses to accept employment in the United States.
Finalizing the H-4 employment eligibility was an important element of the immigration executive actions President Obama announced in November 2014. Extending eligibility for employment authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants is one of several initiatives underway to modernize, improve and clarify visa programs to grow the U.S. economy and create jobs. 
“Allowing the spouses of these visa holders to legally work in the United States makes perfect sense,” Rodríguez said. “It helps U.S. businesses keep their highly skilled workers by increasing the chances these workers will choose to stay in this country during the transition from temporary workers to permanent residents. It also provides more economic stability and better quality of life for the affected families.”
Eligible individuals include certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who: 
  • Are the principal beneficiaries of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; or 
  • Have been granted H-1B status under sections 106(a) and (b) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 as amended by the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act. The Act permits H-1B nonimmigrants seeking lawful permanent residence to work and remain in the United States beyond the six-year limit on their H-1B status.
DHS expects this change will reduce the economic burdens and personal stresses H-1B nonimmigrants and their families may experience during the transition from nonimmigrant to lawful permanent resident status, and facilitate their integration into American society. As such, the change should reduce certain disincentives that currently lead H-1B nonimmigrants to abandon efforts to remain in the United States while seeking lawful permanent residence, which will minimize disruptions to U.S. businesses employing them. The change should also support the U.S. economy because the contributions H-1B nonimmigrants make to entrepreneurship and science help promote economic growth and job creation. The rule also will bring U.S. immigration policies more in line with those laws of other countries that compete to attract similar highly skilled workers.
Under the rule, eligible H-4 dependent spouses must file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with supporting evidence and the required $380 fee in order to obtain employment authorization and receive a Form I-766, Employment Authorization Document (EAD). USCIS will begin accepting applications on May 26, 2015. Once USCIS approves the Form I-765 and the H-4 dependent spouse receives an EAD, he or she may begin working in the United States.
USCIS estimates the number of individuals eligible to apply for employment authorization under this rule could be as high as 179,600 in the first year and 55,000 annually in subsequent years. USCIS reminds those potentially eligible that this rule is not considered effective until May 26, 2015. Individuals should not submit an application to USCIS before the effective date, and should avoid anyone who offers to assist in submitting an application to USCIS before the effective date.
For more information on USCIS and its programs or about this rule and filing procedures, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on Facebook (/uscis), Twitter (@uscis), YouTube (/uscis) and the USCIS blog The Beacon.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Tax Season Brings Out Scammers, Con Artists Looking For An Easy Score

From wabe.org, 02/11/2015


Now that it’s tax season, the number of attempts by scam artists to steal a taxpayer’s identity, or con people into paying money that they don’t owe, has increased dramatically.  
Recently, Dottie Callina ─ manager of communications with the Better Business Bureau serving metro Atlanta, Athens and northeast Georgia ─ talked with WABE's Steve Goss about how to protect yourself from a tax season scam. 
"The IRS will never call you about taxes that you owe," Callina said. "They will never demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe. They will require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes. They will never ask you for a credit or debit card over the phone, and they will never threaten to bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to have you arrested."  
If you receive any suspicious telephone calls, emails or letters, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 or visit irs.gov for help. 
See the full story and listed to a conversation with the Better Business Bureau's Dottie Callina here - http://wabe.org/post/tax-season-brings-out-scammers-con-artists-looking-easy-score